Tuesday, April 19, 2011

IFBB Pro Michelle Blank Interview

For me, one of the main highlights of the Arnold's was meeting and talking to Michelle Blank. She was incredibly kind, even more beautiful in person and allowed me to get my cardio i by being her coffee runner. But there is more to Michelle than just being a kind, beautiful coffee drinker. Look at her competition history. First show, she wins, second show, she wins her IFBB Pro card, and at her third show, this years N.Y. Pro, she took third and qualified for the Olympia. Combined with a busy job, it is amazing how she finds time to both work on routines and build one of the best physiques in the Fitness division. Very honored to present my interview with Michelle Blank.

Q: First, Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time to do this.

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in Ocean City, NJ and attended Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. I lived and worked in Philly for a few years until I moved to Saint Simons Island, Georgia for work in late 2009.
I'm a Special Agent for IRS Criminal Investigation. Currently I'm assigned to our National Criminal Investigation Training Academy as an Use of Force Instructor & the National Physical Fitness Coordinator for our agency.

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: I started dance with I was 4 years old. I mainly did jazz and acrobatics. I was almost 11 by the time I started gymnastics. From 11 to 17 my life was gymnastics and I was hoping to go compete in college. When I was 16 I made it to level 9, but then I got a stress fracture in my lower back. I tried to compete the following year, but
was still in a lot of pain. I decided to retire from gymnastics at that time. However, 9 years later, I found myself back in gymnastics. I had started attending open workouts near a gymnastics gym near my house in Pennsylvania. The adult class was going to compete in the State Games for Pennsylvania and asked me to join them. I thought they were crazy since I had only been tumbling and had not touched the other events. In the end they convinced me and we had a great time. After that
competition, we developed an adult gymnastics team and started competing in more competitions. The first year for our team, I competed at Regionals in the 15 and up age group and took second.

Q; What initially led you in to the gym. Was training something you picked up fairly easy? What made you decide to compete?
A; During most of college days I did not work out as I was working and going to college full time. One day a fellow co-worker told me I was looking flabby which convinced me it was time to start working out. The problem was my only experience working out involved competitive sports. I thought I need a goal and considered
Fitness competitions. At that time, I did not know anyone involved in Fitness competitions or how to go about preparing so I just started going to the gym.
I did cardio and strength training a couple days a week. Going into training for my job, I was in decent shape, but still had plenty room for improvement. By the time I completed training, I had increased my cardio and became more structured in my strength training routine. In 2006 I started attending open gym workouts at a gymnastics club in Upper Merion, Pennsylvania. The following year, I helped to establish an adult gymnastics team at the club and began competing again. In late 2008, my coach Tina Cole asked if I had ever thought about body building and I told her I had thought about doing Fitness competitions prior to starting back at gymnastics. Tina introduced me to Tracey Greenwood in late 2008 and we started prepping for my first competition in January 2009.

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: My family and friends have been supportive throughout my entire journey. They know once I set a goal for myself, I will not stop until I reach that goal and then will set a new one.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: The tanning, posing and dieting were all very new to me and if I did not have Tracey telling me what I needed to do, competing would have been a complete nightmare.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I competed in and won my first show on October 31, 2009 and turned pro at my second competition at the 2010 NPC JR Nationals in June. I just made my Pro debut in NYC on April 9th placing 3rd and qualified for the Olympia!!!! I'm still in shock! What a journey this has been and I can't wait to compete in Toronto followed by the Olympia!

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A; I think my back, but I don't get to see too often other than photographs. LOL!

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: My favorite exercise are handstand shoulder taps. I get into a handstand and tap my hand to my shoulder one at a time. I do anywhere from 30 to 50 taps during
one set. It's so much fun to be a fitness competitor and do exercises most people wouldn't dare to try.

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep
A; My workouts are usually split as follows:
The other days I work my routine.
My diet usually consists of 5 meals and a post workout protein shake. My diet has gone through 3 stages since January. Consisting of egg whites, tuna, chicken, tilapia, and flank steak. In the beginning it was a mix of all of those. Then we took out the flank steak and added more Tilapia. I was getting too lean so we added more sweet potatoes and eventually removed all Tilapia and replaced with Flank steak for 2 meals.

Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: "Wow I wish I looked like you" or "you could kick my ass." What I don't like to
hear is you're not a body builder are you? I don't like how there is such a
misconception about body building. Yes I am a body builder and proud of it.

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: "Do you work out?"

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Some people think you are taking some kind of drug if you have a lot of muscle.
Then there are people that are afraid to lift weights because they don't want to
gain big muscles. There are Many factors that go in to the size of your muscles; genetics, bone structure, exercise regimen and diet. There are no simple answers or miracle drugs. It takes work or lack of work that shapes your muscle size. Every one's body is different and changes in different ways. You have to find what works for you to get the look you want.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: Not enough time and having to work around ailments. I love how I feel once I get my workouts in. I love being a fitness competitor because my work outs include doing goofy exercises in the gym and it can't be deemed showing off. Just part of the routine!

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: Tracey Greenwood! I'm not just saying that because she's my coach. She had crazy
difficult routines and knew how to show them off and has an amazing physique. Even more inspiring is that fact she competed at such a high level while working as a professor, consulting, expediting and all the other things she's involved in. Going into my first competition I wasn't sure if I would be able to balance a full time job outside the fitness industry and preparing for competition. Tracey's ability to manage it all helped me.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Brownie ice cream sundae!!!

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: The hardest part is getting started. Start by finding something you know you would enjoy and can fit in to your schedule easily. Once you reach the first goal, make another, and make each one more challenging.

Q: Do you think it is becoming more common to see women working in the gym with the weights and not just doing cardio and things?
A; There is so much information out there letting people know muscle burns more
calories than fat and doing just cardio will not help you build muscle and lose
fat as quickly as combining strength training & cardio that women are doing more
than just cardio now. There are also so many ways to strength train with out
using machines & free weights which has enticed many women away from just doing cardio.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I like to be outside as much as I can. I enjoy reading but have trouble sitting
still long enough or have the time. When I can I help to coach gymnastics. I love to motivate people of all ages not just in the gym but in all walks of life. It's never too late or too early to set a goal and dedicating yourself to reach that goal.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Michelle Blank.
A: It all starts with 30-45 minutes of cardio. Breakfast in my car as I drive to work. My day may start at 7 or 8 AM depending on the class schedule. My work day involves being in the mat room teaching defensive tactics, answering questions from the field regarding policy and training, and developing training techniques and policies.

Q: Describe Michelle Blank in five words.
A: Motivated, Dedicated, Open hearted, Balanced, Optimistic

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I always wanted to be a firefighter!

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: Well, I just made my pro debut in NY, took third place qualifying me for the
Olympia so you know where I will be in September! Wow still amazed! Before that I will be competing at the Toronto Supershow in June.

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: With out the guidance of Tracey Greenwood I would be were I am today. After only
three competitions I am making my way to the Olympia stage. That says it all!! I followed her plan each time and each time she was right on! CJ Elite Suits has
made all my suits and costumes and they are spectacular! I mainly train at Anytime Fitness and they have been so supportive. I love that I can go Anytime, Anywhere and have used their facilities all over the east coast. I practice my routine at the Karate for Kids klub in Brunswick, GA and coach there when I can and Brunswick Gymnastics. Organic Monkey has sent me some fantastic supplements. Eat to Grow provided me with much needed organic chicken & tilapia before my pro debut. I was having trouble finding organic chicken & tilapia where I live. I've also been using egg whites from egg whites international for the past few months and love the convenience and higher quality of protein I'm getting from the product.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they
getting in Michelle Blank the athlete and competitor?
A; I am looking for sponsors. I love being a fitness competitor not just for myself but the opportunity to motivate others to live a healthier lifestyle. My website is apprimefit.com and e-mail is michelle@apprimefit.com

Q: Michelle, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: Apprime Fit = Fitness Above All
Mind, body and spirit!!
Be fit!!

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